English vocabulary

English vocabulary learning can feel exhausting. When average native speakers understand between 20,000 and 30,000 words, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by just looking at the number alone.

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However, you only need 10-20% of that vocab for daily conversations. In addition, learning English words isn’t linear. The more you know, the easier you can understand and remember new ones. If you struggle to retain words - don’t blame it on your memory! Instead, approach it as part of life-long learning. Use your existing knowledge to do the hard work for you.

We collected powerful resources for you to learn new English vocabulary words easier.

English vocabulary

What is English vocabulary all about?

The idea of a vocabulary is as ancient as languages themselves. In Latin, “vocare” meant naming or calling, which later became a part of “vocabularium” to describe a list of words. Nowadays, we use it to describe the entire mass of words in a language and an individual’s ability. In other words, your vocabulary determines the total collection of words you know and use.

Improving your English vocab allows you to:

Understand and share information without having to look up definitions. 

Rely on your existing knowledge to learn new English words.

Define ideas and build on abstract topics of different complexity.

Think in English without translating thoughts into your native tongue.

English vocabulary reference guide

Discover these popular topics and subtopics to learn English vocabulary easier:

1General English

Common and often simple topics that cover different parts of life. Most learners start with these topics to create a foundation of words and phrases they can use to improve further. 

People

Covers words that relate to others, such as family, friends, colleagues, and so on. Also includes character and personalities at higher levels.

Familiar Places

Covers describing locations and things in them. Can be your home, office, neighborhood, town, country, and so on.

Events in Time

Covers your present life, past decisions, and future plans. Can range from simple personal history to abstract events in the world.

Occupation

Covers a wide variety of topics related to jobs and what people do in them. Also includes work/life balance, salaries, etc.

Food

Covers various topics such as diet, healthy eating, restaurants, cooking, cultural dishes, drinks, and so on.

Hobbies

Covers how people spend their leisure time. Includes sports, games, collecting objects, reading, and so on.

Seasons

Covers weather at different times in different parts of the world. Also includes holidays, seasonal clothing, and so on.

Behaviors

Covers words we use to express actions, feelings, and emotions. Includes personal preferences, habits, and so on.

Pop Culture

Covers everything from music to movies, books, TV shows, podcasts, celebrities, famous brands, and so on. 

2Business English

Professional topics that cover different parts of work and business-related activities. Most business English learners are above the B1 level, although they start learning words related directly to their job earlier.

Job Interviews

Covers creating a resume, describing your existing skills, discussing your experience, answering common questions, etc.

Negotiations

covers making proposals, asking clarifying questions, reaching an agreement, sales activities, and related topics.

Business Correspondence

Covers different approaches to writing work emails, messages, announcements, reports, and so on.

Contracts

Covers a wide range of specific topics such as employee contracts, non-disclosure agreements, service agreements, and so on.

Presentations

Covers specific topics around crafting reports and presentations for board meetings, team assemblies, etc.

Leadership

Covers topics that help communicate ideas more effectively, such as vision, motivation, public speaking, etc.

Finance

Covers topics specific to economics and accounting. Includes payroll, taxes, financial analytics, and so on.

Marketing

Covers topics specific to promotion and advertising. Includes digital marketing, social media, content creation, and so on.

Management

Covers topics that relate to project or process management. Includes tactics, software, corporate policies, and so on.

3Travel English

Travel subjects cover a range of cultural information and have a lot of overlap with general English. Learners often need specific topics in travel to deal with situations abroad. 

Culture

Covers topics that describe people, traditions, and history. Includes worldviews, beliefs, shared celebrations, and so on.

Countries

Covers specific information about countries such as language, economics, history, etc.

Locations

Covers specific places and words we use to describe cities, nature, views, landscapes, etc.

Transit

Covers topics that describe modes of transportation, planning routes, common situations at an airport or railway, and so on.

Migration

Covers topics that describe moving to a foreign country. Includes visas, paperwork, customs, etc.

Shopping

Covers topics around buying things abroad. Includes common situations at stores, different currencies, and so on.

Cultural Foods

Covers topics specific to cultures and food that aren’t part of general knowledge - Indian cuisine, Italian restaurants, and so on. 

Adventures

Covers topics that include activities during travel such as hiking, extreme sports, road trips, scuba diving, and so on.

Types of Trips

Covers all kinds of reasons for travel, such as family visits, corporate retreats, specialist travel, and so on.

Test your English vocab skills

Find out how well you know English with our 20-minute online placement test. Answer multiple-choice questions from different topics to check your knowledge. Immediately get the results after you finish. Get information about your mistakes and how you can improve.

Test my skills

4 Ways to improve your vocabulary online with Promova

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Free Vocabulary Resources

How to Learn New Words in English Everyday

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How to Boost Your English vocabulary: 12 ways to expand your vocabulary

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Difficult English Words And What They Mean

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People often ask

Which topics should I start learning English from?

We recommend starting with General English topics if you’re a complete beginner. First, you should start with topics that help you describe familiar things. After that, you can learn about things you find enjoyable - travel, hobbies, and so on. Eventually, you should use English to learn new words without falling back into your native language. 

When it comes to vocabulary, English is much easier to learn than most languages. That’s because most people only use a small set of a few thousand words to communicate, and you can learn them fairly quickly. However, effortless fluency is another difficulty level and often takes years to master.

How do I not forget new words I learn?

Firstly, it’s important to understand how our brains work. We remember things we use and forget things we don’t. You discover new words and forget old ones in your native language all the time, so why would vocabulary in English be any different?

Once you let go of an expectation to remember every single word, your job becomes much easier. You can replace it with a new goal: use any important words you learn. You can say them in conversations with friends or repeat them in your head when they appear in a TV show. Either way, practice beats memory.

How much English vocabulary do I need to be fluent?

Researchers estimate that average native speakers know around 20,000 and 30,000 words. However, for language learners, fluency begins at the B1 level of English, where you know and use only about 3,000 words. Note that it doesn’t mean native-like fluency across all topics. However, 3,000 words are enough to use the language independently and fluently discuss familiar topics. 

Remember that improving your vocabulary is about life-long learning and not getting to a certain level. It’s better to think of it as your mental toolbox in which you sometimes place new tools. It’s not just how many words you know but how many of them you can use effectively.